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Editorial: Storm water tax doesn't go over well with readers

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Readers of the Hastings Star Gazette didn't exactly take the news well last week that they'd soon be seeing a new tax/fee on their utility bills.

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The Hastings City Council passed an ordinance last week that assesses a fee to homeowners and businesses for storm water runoff.

We heard from many readers, some of whom left comments on our website at www.hastingsstargazette.com.

Here's what our readers were saying:

Scott M.:

Here we go again. Another user fee, tax hike or referendum and somebody always has to state that is only $XXX amount and to give up something out of our personal lives to accommodate it. Assuming that everyone eats out, bar hops and chain smokes. Hey, I know, how about a fee just for existing? People don't need to save up for their kid's college fund, retirement, once-a-year vacation or even a birthday party. Come on, taxing rain and snow run-off is the silliest thing that a city can pass. What's next?

Mike T.:

If I understand this correctly, I am now paying a fee for an act of God (rain and storms)? What's next, a fee for lightning protection kits for our water towers? If we have a drought, do I get a rebate based on less storm water run off?

Mike L.:

Regardless of the issue of the insanity of charging for an act of God, I agree with Tony Alongi that it should be paid for using the current system of stealing my money (property tax), not creating yet another avenue into my wallet (fees).

Let me get this straight: A lobbyist convinced at least one member of the council that churches should be excluded because congregation members complained that part of their donation would need to be used to pay this fee. So the cost was pushed off to the private homeowner who, statistically, doesn't even attend church. So, yet again, the small vocal minority is able to push its fair share off on to the folks who just want to live their lives without lobbying.

Gary H.:

So the church is exempt ? I pray in my garage every Sunday. Can I get a exemption ?

Rick O.:

Let's not lose site of where this all started. Our Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty says "no new taxes." So the state is not able to fund our communities as has previously been the case. Now the cities must come up with clever ways to replace that lost funding. So Governor Pawlenty is not leading the state out of its dire financial situation, but allowing the communities to look like the bad guys, solving financial issues piece meal. I wish all services were free, but they are not. Let's not blame the city council as they have been put into a difficult situation. You can bet your governor will campaign nationally on his no-new-taxes pledge. And sure, let's call it a fee.

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
(651) 319-4500
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